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Christie's to sell Fender Stratocaster played by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival
The guitar and lyrics were left aboard a private airplane used by Bob Dylan and his band and crew in the months after the 1965 Newport performance. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.
NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced a dedicated sale of Bob Dylan material, to be highlighted by the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar owned and used by him during his infamous, groundbreaking performance at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965. The auction, which is taking place in New York on December 6, 2013, will present a total of six lots, which in addition to the guitar will also include five lots of newly discovered song lyrics by Bob Dylan, dating to his most important recording period, 1965-1966. The guitar is estimated at $300,000-500,000.

The guitar and lyrics were left aboard a private airplane used by Bob Dylan and his band and crew in the months after the 1965 Newport performance. The plane was flown by a commercial pilot based in New Jersey, Vic Quinto, who had been engaged by Albert Grossman to shuttle artists Mr. Grossman managed, including Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul, and Mary. In 2011 Mr. Quinto’s daughter, Dawn Peterson, submitted the items to the PBS television program History Detectives for authentication. The guitar and lyrics have been proven to be genuine and are now being offered for sale at Christie’s, and will be on view at Christie’s Rockefeller Center location in advance of the auction.

It has been referred to as “the most written-about performance in the history of rock & roll,” as it announced a seismic shift in the direction of popular music in the 1960s and beyond. Bob Dylan’s 1965 performance at Newport – his first with an electric backing band, with Dylan playing this guitar – has been cited by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the most notable events in music history. In a blistering three-song electric set, Dylan, only 24 years old at the time and already recognized as the most important songwriter of his generation, forever established himself as one of the most important figures in rock & roll. The performance was unexpected, loud, and powerful, and the reaction it caused became a moment of legend, elevating Dylan’s persona beyond that of an acoustic folk singer. The audience at Newport revolted: “I did this very crazy thing,” Dylan said at the time. “I didn’t know what was going to happen, but they certainly booed, I’ll tell you that. You could hear it all over the place.”

The guitar, a 1964 solid body Fender Stratocaster with a classic sunburst finish, and outfitted with original flat-wound strings, was also used by Bob Dylan at his first appearance with future members of The Band at Forest Hills, New York in the weeks after Newport, and during the 1965 recording sessions for his album Bringing It All Back Home. In addition to the guitar, the lot includes the original Fender hardshell case, and the original black leather guitar strap.

Also being auctioned are five lots of hand- and typewritten lyrics which were found in the guitar case. There is an early draft of “Absolutely Sweet Marie,” from Blonde On Blonde (here titled “In the Darkness of Your Room.”) The lyrics also include three songs which were recorded during the Blonde On Blonde sessions but remained unreleased until the 1980s: “Medicine Sunday,” (here titled “Midnight Train”), “Jet Pilot,” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” and one unreleased and untitled song, beginning with the line “You Owe Me Your Loving.” Estimates for the lyrics range from $3,000-30,000.

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